The term fake news gets thrown around now like it’s used to comfort a sneeze. And its become the go-to punchline for everyone including the President. Fairly or unfairly. Even so, this was a spectacularly bad week for the media. From CNN, to AP to CBS here is a brief run down of the week that has seen our brave firefighters of truth setting themselves ablaze.
Dan Rather on CNN’s Reliable Sources
Dan Rather’s media rehab tour doesn’t appear to be slowing down, and certainly not by any self awareness, anytime soon. Rather of course went from respected anchorman and 60 Minutes contributor, to disgraced awkward senior citizen Facebook poster. Rather famously pushed falsified George W. Bush Air National Guard records in what may be the paramount example of pushing faked news in hopes of swinging a Presidential election.
Rather of course no longer hides behind any semblance of impartiality and in doing so has been embraced by both Hollywood and the cable news media. Apparently some of these geniuses think rehabilitating Rather’s image somehow serves their purpose of seeking out truth. Even more comical is inviting Rather on a show called Reliable Sources to give his expert opinion.
CBS Morning Host Gayle King Vacationing with the Obamas
To his credit, Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter took it upon himself to point out a fun piece of ignored information while reporting on the Obamas enjoying David Geffen’s multimillion dollar yacht in French Polynesia. Obama’s guests included his regular get-along-gang of millionaire celebrity friends like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks and Orpah Winfrey and as it turns out, CBS Morning host Gayle King, who as Stelter pointed out, was never announced on the trip by CBS but was snapped by paparazzi scoping out the vessel. Prior to her vacay, King participated in a Hollywood Reporter roundtable about Fake News and fairness in Journalism. Yes, really.
Trump Attends Easter Service (But Obummer!)
Everyone gets a tweet wrong, some more than others. But it’s how a particular tweeter reacts when confronted with such a situation. Like for instance in the case of Matt McDermott, a senior analyst and pollster with a healthy media following on Twitter. On Easter, McDermott tweeted out, “The Obamas spent every Easter attending church service. Trump hasn’t attended church once since his inauguration. Where’s the GOP outrage?” Well there was no outrage because Trump in fact did attend Easter services in Florida, and at the same church where he was married to his wife Melania. McDermott’s tweet has since accumulated over 35,000 retweets and 73,000 likes.
When confronted by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Mcdermott refused to delete the inaccurate tweet which is still live, claiming that because he didn’t know about the Trump’s Easter attendance that his tweet was accurate at the time. He then blamed conservatives for Obummer Muzlim, or something. The good news for McDermott? As a pollster, his professional livelihood isn’t based on accurately relaying information to the public.
Politico Trump Hat Toss
All too eager to prove President Trump actually is Biff Tannen alternate future 1985 incarnate, Politico tweeted out a video that appeared to show a kid at the White House Easter Egg hunt ask the President to sign his MAGA hat. Trump smiled, stopped and obliged the kid, before appearing to toss the hat into the crowd as the kid shouted “No!”, both shattering his dreams of a Presidential autograph and losing his favorite hat.
The Internet had a chuckle (Me included), journalists on Twitter did what they always do, passing around the video and snickering with each other in listserv groups about how stupid he is. Except that’s not what happened. On Twitter, NBC reporter Micah Grimes later shared a video from another angle that shows Trump tossing the hat up in the air and back to the kid. Exhausted yet?
AP Edits Fresno Terror Attackers Words to Hide Motive
By the way, it’s only Thursday. News broke on Wednesday of a mass shooting near Fresno, Ca. The victims, all white, where murdered by a perpetrator identified as 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad, who according to Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer yelled “Allahu Akbar” during the ordeal. Motive still unknown. The killer’s statement was confirmed by most major news outlets including CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC News. The Associated Press reported something different in a now deleted tweet, stating the killer shouted “God is great.”
This tweet remained live for almost a full 24 hours before AP issued a correction. What were the motivations behind this tweet from AP? Who approved the completely false statement and why was it allowed remain live for almost a full day? No one knows because no other truth telling, fact finding journalists picked up the phone and asked AP why they chose to protect the statements of a mass shooter instead of reporting accurately what was said. That was a fire apparently no journalists felt like rushing toward.
New York Times Humiliated by New England Patriots Twitter Account.
For some reason, which members of sports team visit the White House has become a narrative with our media. When the New England Patriots won this last Super Bowl, players were immediately questioned if they would attend the White House with a President Trump jersey presentation, as is tradition.
Players skipping the ceremony is nothing new, but for some odd strange reason this year held more weight. Enter the New York Times sports editors, who in an attempt to troll Trump, tweeted out Patriot player attendance from 2015 with Obama, compared to 2017 under Trump. There were clearly fewer players on stage with Trump.
But shortly after, the Times was fact checked, not by other journalists who love to preach about fact checking all things Trump, but by the Patriots Twitter account. In a reply to the Times,, ”These photos lack context. Facts: In 2015, over 40 football staff were on the stairs. In 2017, they were seated on the South Lawn.” Then the team tweeted another photo of and White House South Balcony. Maybe NFL Twitter accounts should switch with snarky journalist accounts. NFL can fact-check news, and journalists can just keep trying to out audition each other for the Daily Show.
Most of these examples, are journalists doing their jobs. Although Brian Stelter somehow thinks the road back to media credibility with the viewing public is interviewing people like Rather, he did ask CBS about King’s jet setting with Obama. Micah Grimes from NBC set the record straight at Politico and Andrew Kaczynski corrected a viral tweet that was a flat out lie. But the bigger issue here is the fact that almost every single one of these examples are all non-stories blown up by media organizations to become a story.
Gayle King will never have to answer for why she thinks it’s appropriate for senior members of the media to vacation with Obama while also claiming their job is to hold Trump accountable. The AP will never have to answer why they think it’s their job is to protect mass shooters from their own words.
And until those most egregious examples of media malfeasance are confronted, their credibility will continue to suffer, and fake news will continue to reign supreme.